One of the reasons plenty of people find it hard to fall asleep at night is that our minds are constantly active, and we’re unable to stop thinking about the day we’ve just had.
Being stressed from work, issues with family life, relationships, or maybe just having a bad day can all lead to feelings of stress and an active mind. This can make it harder to fall asleep and even affect sleep quality.
The easiest way to solve that problem is to relax, which sometimes sounds simpler than it is. How annoying is it when people tell you to “just relax”? It’s not that easy!
Many people find that meditation is a great way to relax both the body and mind. But can it help us fall asleep quicker?
Read through the article to know whether or not meditation will help you fall asleep and if it can get you better sleep quality in the long run.
What is meditation?
The art of meditation is a collective of techniques used to induce a state of relaxation for both body and mind.
Contrary to popular belief, meditating isn’t about clearing or emptying your mind. It’s about being more aware and focused on your current state.
Meditation has a long history of being used in religious and spiritual practises, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and even Christianity, and in many of those practises is deeply connected to prayer or yoga.
Modern meditation uses techniques to direct the mind’s focus, attention, and awareness on one thing to achieve a calm and relaxed state.
Our minds are powerful – they are designed to process lots of information, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Allowing our mind to wander easily puts it into overdrive and can cause stress, as well as difficulty relaxing and sleeping.
Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, encourages us to fixate, pay attention and be more aware.
For example, when doing a breathing exercise, you don’t just take deep breaths and have your mind do nothing. Mindfulness is about paying attention to each breath as you inhale and exhale. Mindfulness is about making sure that the mind isn’t wandering away from the task, but being more focused on the present moment.
Mindfulness allows you to be more engaged with whatever you’re doing and allows you to put all your thoughts at bay, instead of allowing it to be in a frantic state. When your mind does begin to wander, take a moment to honour that thought, then let it go and return your awareness to your breath.
How can meditation help you relax?
Some people might think meditation isn’t for them, that it’s too hippy, or it’s boring, or they don’t have the time in their day for it. These are just excuses, and everybody can benefit from a little meditation and mindfulness in their day.
Constantly thinking about all our problems, worries and anything that causes stress can leave us feeling unsettled, can deteriorate our mood and even cause feelings of anxiety.
The general idea of meditation is to manage the crowding in our mind that causes us stress, leading to better mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
The greatest benefits of meditation include relaxing our body and placing our mind in a state of tranquility. Other benefits include taking the time to focus on yourself and developing a better understanding of your needs and priorities.
Can meditation help you sleep?
Established researchers have suggested that incorporating meditation before sleep or throughout the day can help those living with sleep problems, like chronic insomnia, to sleep better.
Meditation has also been shown to actively calm down the nervous system and lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which are essential for regulating your circadian rhythm.
Meditating has also been found to bring more restful sleep to those who do not have any sleep issues.
Mindfulness meditation also helps improve sleep quality in older adults and helps create better sleep patterns.
Where do I begin?
The beauty of meditation is that it can be done at any place and time that you find convenient. There are no tools, apart from your body and your mind.
Find a spot where you feel most at ease, such as your bed, your car or even in a park. Take a seat and set a manageable time limit – it’s best to start doing it for a short time such as 5-10 minutes.
Take deep breaths and exhale slowly, be mindful of your breathing and give all your attention to the sensation of breathing.
Your mind will inevitably wander during the time set, and that’s normal. When that happens, simply make yourself aware and return your focus to your breathing.
Once the time is over, open your eyes and begin noticing how your body feels, and how it has affected your overall wellness. More often than not, you’re in a more relaxed state than you were before meditating.
If you need a prompt or some guidance, there are plenty of free guided meditations available online, which will talk you through how you’re feeling, helping you focus your breath and mind.
What to do next?
Meditation has benefits to your overall well being and even on your mental health, but it shouldn’t be just a one-time thing.
Making consistent meditation a part of your routine is essential to get the most out of the practise.
Mindful meditation is something that you need to do regularly, and something you get better at as time goes on
It can feel intimidating starting something new, especially if you’re inexperienced. You also might want to try it out with a friend so it feels less daunting.
You can join group meditation sessions, whether it’s a yoga class or a religious gathering—these are all forms of meditation.
How to add meditation to your bedtime routine
Although meditation can be practised at any time of the day, it’s beneficial to make it part of your nighttime routine.
Consistently meditating before bed not only relaxes you, but also trains your mind to associate meditation with a state of restfulness, followed by sleep.
Practise good sleep hygiene; turn the lights off, set your room at a comfortable temperature, put away sources of sleep disturbance such as phones, televisions, and other things that can distract you from your routine.
Time to meditate!
Meditation is a proven and effective way of improving your overall well being, and it comes with a host of health benefits, mainly reducing stress.
Meditation has helped many people in improving their sleep quality, mood and overall health.
Whether you have a sleep disorder or just curious about how meditation can help improve your sleep, try it out. What have you got to lose?